Blogs

We Can Pickle That: Cucumbers!

Summer is on -- time to cue the cukes! Pickling is the way to go for most of us, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves for cucumbers.

Sour Pickles
Sour Pickles
Our friend lactofermentation gives cucumbers their characteristic tang. This is the deli pickle of your dreams -- but there are a few tricks to perfecting crispy spears. (Image via Tim Vidra)
Half Sours
Half Sours
A slightly less salty brine produces a pickle with a slightly less sour tang. (Image via From Scratch Club)
East Coast New Pickles
East Coast New Pickles
A tradition in the Northeast, these pickles are brined but unfermented, making for a crisp, salty cuke. (Image via Linda Ziedrich)
Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
Whether fermented or vinegar-brined, dill pickles are dill-icious, and endlessly variable. (Image via Talk of Tomatoes)

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Keen on Peaches

Peaches -- can there be a more perfect fruit? When these fuzzy friends are in season, you gotta get all over them. How many ways will you put up peaches this year?

Canned Peaches
Canned Peaches
Can up those fruits in syrup and be ready to make a pie that tastes like a summer's day in the dead of winter. Better yet -- make them brandied (oh, yes!) (Image via Little Miss Cruciferous)
Peach Jam
Peach Jam
The sweetness of peaches shines in a sunny orange jam. (Image via Turntable Kitchen)
Peach Preserves
Peach Preserves
Left chunkier, preserves can be used like a jam on morning toast, or becomes a dessert with the simple addition of ice cream. (Image via My Man's Belly)
Peach Jelly
Peach Jelly
Extract the essence of peachness and set it in a jewel-like jelly. (Image via A Box of Stolen Socks)

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Going Ape for Apricots

Like sunshine trapped in a soft, fuzzy fruit, apricots are the ultimate harbinger of summer. Here's a bushelful of ways to make the most of them.

Canned Apricots
Canned Apricots
Can up those fruits in syrup either light or heavy to have on hand for desserts to come. (Image via Wildcraft Vita)
Apricot Jam
Apricot Jam
Apricot is arguably the easiest jam, as the fruit melts down and creates a set without any added pectin. (Image via Food Fanatic)
Apricot Preserves
Apricot Preserves
Stewed down and chunky, apricot preserves are delicious on desserts, or just eaten by the spoonful. (Image via Girl's Guide to Butter and Guns)
Apricot Jelly
Apricot Jelly
Think beyond the peanut butter on this stuff -- apricot jelly makes an amazing glaze on pies and tarts, as well as savory roast meats like pork or turkey.  (Image via Nest)

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Dandelions Are Dandy

Dandelions are more than mere weeds -- they're one of the more useful wild plants, and they're readily available in your backyard. Check out this list of projects to see why dandelions are just dandy.

Dandelion Wine
Dandelion Wine
Round up the troops to pick your pesky dandelions and turn those babies into out-and-out wine (with a little help from Father Fermentation). (Image via The Old School)

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Review and Giveaway: Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen

I've spent more than my share of time in the kitchen, particularly over the past few years. Along the way, I've learned a thing or ten, tips and techniques that I've uncovered either by trial and error or by working with others with greater savvy than I. Being at ease in the kitchen is a skill that comes with time; none of us is born with the knowledge. 

But you can shortcut your way to being a kitchen ninja, thanks to Kate Payne. Kate first came to our collective rescue with The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, where she taught us all how to keep a happy, healthy home, with bonus sanity-saving tips on things like how to fold a fitted sheet. (My previous method involved rolling it up in a wad and cramming it in the closet.) 

I first met Kate when she and her wife, the talented photog JoAnn Santangelo, came to the Bay Area to promote that book. At Blue Chair Fruit, we had a not-your-grandmother's tea party with finger sandwiches, scones ... and homemade tea liqueur courtesy of yours truly. 

Since then, Kate and I have maintained a friendship, and last year she and I did a panel at BlogHer Food 13 with Sarah Tetreault on how to maximize yield of your food through a variety of preservation techniques

This is the sort of thing Kate does best -- frugality through common sense methods. And with her new book, The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen,  she applies the same clarity to the most important room in the house.

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Stuff It! DIY Sausage

Summertime is upon us, and it's time to bust out the grill and sear up some sausage. Making your own is easier than you think, and the rewards are worth the effort.

Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs
Store-bought franks are snouts and ... other parts. Make your own with top-quality meat for the best flavor. (Image via Eat Live Travel Write)
Italian Sausages
Italian Sausages
Hot or sweet, Italian sausages bring big flavor to the party. (Image via NPR)
Chorizo
Chorizo
A pinch of pimientón makes these Mexican and Spanish sausages muy caliente(Image via The Cultivated Life)

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Cherries Are the Bomb

Sweet or tart, cherries are the bomb, and the harbinger of stone fruit season. If you have more than you can simply pop in your mouth, here's a whole bushel of ways to put them up.

Cherry Jam
Cherry Jam
Jam up those cherries for a sweet spread that tastes of summer all year long. (Image via Shockingly Delicious)
Cherry Preserves
Cherry Preserves
Preserve whole or chunked fruit for more texture, perfect for desserts. (Image via Kitchen Apparel)
Cherry Pie Filling
Cherry Pie Filling
Can your own sweet cherries for those holiday pies and treats. (Image via Delectable Musings)

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Chorizo Fresco, from "Charcutería: The Soul of Spain"

Chorizo Fresco

Do you have a Meat Club? Since last year, a loose collective of San Francisco Bay Area-based food fanatics, including myself, have been getting together periodically to play with our meat. Er, you know what I mean.

It all started at the judging for last year's Good Food Awards. We tasters were all given a copy of Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller's In The Charcuterie, and discussion flowed as we drew inspiration from it. For our first project we made the ciccioli terrine recipe, and since then have done various pâtés and sausages, including boudin blanc

Mind you, to date, there has historically been only one other man involved in said meat club, and he has only participated once, so our sessions have been comprised of up to 10 women, and me. Insert sausage party joke here. 

Anyway, when I was approached to be part of a virtual book tour for the new Charcutería: The Soul of Spain, by Jeffrey Weiss, I knew what had to be done. We were going to make meat, Spanish-style, and that's all there was to it. 

The book is truly stunning, rich with imagery and containing the best and most comprehensive look at Spanish gastronomy, with a keen eye on the cured meats, conserves and pickles that comprise the country's cuisine. Having spent a month in Spain, I was instantly smitten. 

We ended up going with the simplest sausage recipe, chorizo fresco, partially because it was our first foray into this book, and because many of the other sausages involve curing in special chambers, and none of us has an appropriate setup at this time. And anyway, who doesn't want chorizo? 

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16 Ways to Put Up Strawberries

Strawberries! Everybody's favorite bright red berry is finally in season, and there are just oh so many things to do with them. Grab a flat or 10 while they're abundant, and tuck into these DIY projects, from jam to sauces to drinks and more.

Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Jam
Kick up the jam with fresh, ripe strawberries, straight up or paired with vanilla, herbs or its best friend, rhubarb. (Image: Sean Timberlake via Cooking Channel)
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Making freezer jam never cooks the strawberries so you get the most fresh tasting strawberry jam ever. And it's easy, to boot. (Image via Tikkido)

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May Flowers

May Flowers: 20 Spring Blossoms to Forage and Preserve, on Punk Domestics

Bye bye, April showers. You know what that means. Spring is in full bloom, and edible flowers are bursting out all over. We've got a great big bouquet of blossoms for you to forage and incorporate in DIY projects.

Violets
Violets
Take a stroll through your local field, and capture dainty violets' delicate flavor and lurid color in syrup and jelly. (Image via Use Real butter)
Elderflower
Elderflower
Sweetly aromatic heads of elderflowers are cropping up all over. Capture their springlike essence while you can with these DIY elderflower projects. (Image via Well Hung Food)

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